A Letter To A New Gymnastics Dad

gymnast and her dad

Dear New Team Dad,

How excited are you for your little gymnast right now? She was asked to become a member of the team and she cannot stop smiling or stop jumping with joy! Your gymnast deserves that spot because not only has she been working hard on her skills, but also you have watched her grow from tumbling around as a baby, to flipping on couch cushions, to swinging on the monkey bars.

I am going to be completely honest with you; gymnastics is not an easy sport. Many hours, sore muscles, falls, tears and fears are involved but the more your little gymnast practices, the braver and stronger she will become. You will be nervous at first, especially since you do not know what to expect- but I promise you that you will be blown away when you see her perform at her first competition meet and you see that she is fearless.

The competition meets, oh yes. You will be in a gym filled with parents who are wearing t-shirts that represent their little gymnast’s team and people in awe over what these little athletes can do. You will see judges at each station: bars, beam, floor, and vault; keep in mind that every judge is different and look for specific things within a routine. Of course, you are going to think your little gymnast should receive a perfect score, however; when points are being deducted just remember that your little gymnast is still a star regardless of what the scoreboard shows. It will also take EVERYTHING in you to not rush over to your little gymnast when she walks away from a routine crying because she is embarrassed and upset that she fell or made a mistake. No matter what the circumstance is, always keep cheering her name; always let her hear how proud you are of her.



I hope you like traveling because your little gymnast will have the opportunity to compete not only within her region, but be able to compete in different states and even countries! Gymnastics teams like to expand all over the country because they want their gymnasts to see what other girls learn at the same level because once again- every team is different and have different learning tactics. As your gymnast’s father, also be prepared to watch thousands of videos on YouTube of former gymnastics champions, and to be glued to your seat when the Olympics are on. You will know more about every gymnast performing than you will of your favorite sports team, so have fun with that!

Don’t you dare forget to take pictures or record videos of your little athlete! You are going to want to record every chance you get of your little gymnast. Always make sure your phone is charged because not only do you want to have the memory, but also your daughter is going to want to look at how she did from an audience perspective and critique herself.

I also want to say that it is not always about winning, or who is better or worse. Every little athlete is different and learns at a different pace; therefore comparing your little gymnast is actually a negative action. You should support your little gymnast, her teammates, and her coaches the best you can because they work hard to be able to compete against other teams and show the audience what they spend their practices doing.

Your little gymnast’s coaches will approach you if there is something going on (example being a fear) before they move onto a new skill. The coaches will never put your daughter at risk, and will never force her to do something she does not want to do or is afraid of doing. The coaches only do what they 100 percent know your daughter is capable of doing and what they are confident on. Being a gymnast is hard because it is more than just physical work, but it is mental work as well. These little gymnasts have to concentrate hard on what they are doing and be able to ignore what is happening around them. They have to block out the crowd talking, cheering and yelling, eyes watching them while they are performing (especially the judges), and how to get back up confidently after they fall.

Gymnastics is a sport that is year-round and consists of a lot of dedication. Something important to keep in mind is that your little gymnast needs to still focus on her education, get enough sleep, and receive all of the nutrition that she needs. Gymnastics will tire your little athlete out and she will be sore, so resting is key so her muscles and her mind can recuperate!

Friends and family are extremely significant because they are your little gymnast’s biggest fans. You are her Prince Charming and she will always look up to you for affection, guidance, and help. Please make sure that your little gymnast is having time with her friends too because they are only young once and deserve that freedom of playtime and “hanging out”. She deserves the fun after her long days of schoolwork and practices! Being part of a gymnastics team is more than exciting so since it is time-consuming you have to remind your little gymnast that she is still a kid and needs time away from the sport.

Lastly, I just want to let you know ahead of time that your little gymnast will not be able to walk anywhere without doing cartwheels or front walkovers; so be cautious of where you are standing at all times!

Best of Luck,

Cara

About the Author

Cara Devenney

Cara Devenney is a journalism and communications graduate from The Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. Cara became involved with gymnastics from her boyfriend's younger sister, and has developed an interest in the sport due to watching her perform. Cara personally thinks that it is inspiring to watch how dedicated young gymnasts are, and hopes to share advice and experience with her viewers!

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